Why do we seem more proud of a valiant loser that an expected winner?
This weekends 4th round cup-tie between the mighty Liverpool (multi-millionaires, 5 times European Champions etc etc) and Havant & Waterlooville* (bunch of part-timers) was a perfect case in point. Liverpool as expected came out comfortable5-2 winners yet the praise and publicity that H&W received would lead one to believe that they had won the cup itself. With H&W taking the lead twice a miracle of biblical proportions looked to be on the cards. Unfortunately Liverpools stamina finally overcame them - as one would expect from full-time athletes - but H&W's commitment certainly wasn't second best.
We English love to see the smaller team doing well. It's something Americans can't understand, they always want the best team to win because that is what the best team should do. But whenever I watch any sporting event as a neutral I always support the underdog, as do most Englishman.
Tim Henman is another case - worshipped for two weeks (well one week, possibly one and a bit if it rains) every summer but never coming close to winning Wimbledon.
In cricket England win a test series unexpectedly against the mighty Australians and the country goes wild. We beat Pakistan and hardly a soul notices.
I am sure we only won the Falklands war because we were underdogs - sending an inadequate task force half way round the world into the enemies back yard guaranteed the full support of the nation. Had the Argies invaded the Isle of Wight they'd probably still be there now.
Maybe it's inbred into our way of thinking. Generally we are a placid race. Unlike the French who organise mass protests at the drop of a hat till their government gives into their demands, the English simply shrug their shoulders accept their lot and get on with things. Maybe an underdog victory (or brave attempt) over the big boys is our substitute for a rising up against authority ? A sticking up of two fingers at those in power?
So I'll carry on supporting the underdog. We get accustomed to disappointment that way, but on the odd occasion when a surprise does happen victory seem so much sweeter.
*For my American readers, Havant & Waterlooville is like Trinidad & Tobago, Liverpool weren't forced to play two teams at once.